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Getting into hot water: sick guppies frequent warmer thermal conditions

Mohammed, Ryan S., Reynolds, Michael, James, Joanna, Williams, Chris, Mohammed, Azad, Ramsubhag, Adesh, Van Oosterhout, Cock and Cable, Joanne 2016. Getting into hot water: sick guppies frequent warmer thermal conditions. Oecologia 181 (3) , pp. 911-917. 10.1007/s00442-016-3598-1

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Ectotherms depend on the environmental temperature for thermoregulation and exploit thermal regimes that optimise physiological functioning. They may also frequent warmer conditions to up-regulate their immune response against parasite infection and/or impede parasite development. This adaptive response, known as ‘behavioural fever’, has been documented in various taxa including insects, reptiles and fish, but only in response to endoparasite infections. Here, a choice chamber experiment was used to investigate the thermal preferences of a tropical freshwater fish, the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata), when infected with a common helminth ectoparasite Gyrodactylus turnbulli, in female-only and mixed-sex shoals. The temperature tolerance of G. turnbulli was also investigated by monitoring parasite population trajectories on guppies maintained at a continuous 18, 24 or 32 °C. Regardless of shoal composition, infected fish frequented the 32 °C choice chamber more often than when uninfected, significantly increasing their mean temperature preference. Parasites maintained continuously at 32 °C decreased to extinction within 3 days, whereas mean parasite abundance increased on hosts incubated at 18 and 24 °C. We show for the first time that gyrodactylid-infected fish have a preference for warmer waters and speculate that sick fish exploit the upper thermal tolerances of their parasites to self medicate.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access at
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0029-8549
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 28 February 2016
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2022 02:35

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